Sometimes I hear people remark that yoga doesn't feel as good when they do it at home as it does in class. And certainly on any given day a practice may feel better or worse - even if it's exactly the same poses. Part of the notion of practice is bringing your whole self even to those more "blah" days.
But sometimes when I ask what the difference feel like, the answers come in terms of instruction, a magical "something," an insight or an "aliveness."
Here's what I think the magical difference is - and it's not how your teacher gets you into the pose.
It's that your teacher gets you into and out of the pose.
Ok, getting into it isn't inconsequential. But even more consequential is the sustained attention of coming out of the pose with great awareness and then seamlessly transitioning to the next pose.
Really intense practice can result: paying attention to your own experience at this level can be really amazing - and a little overwhelming. This is one of the reasons to keep your practices reasonably short at first. You'll become more and more comfortable with this level of truth, regard and compassion, but to begin it can be kind, useful and sustainable to begin with shorter periods of time. Then let the effect of absorbing some of your own attention sink in over the day. Come back day after day, a little at a time.
The next time you're practicing on your own at home try this sustained attention through transitions - not simply into but also out of and between poses. Leave a comment and share your experience - each practice, each breath, each moment of awareness contributes to enlivening our world. This is why this method of turning your attention toward your own experience a little every day isn't self-indulgent, isn't selfish (even if it feels that way to begin with) and isn't self-involved. Your practice of becoming aware of your own experience clears out your capacity for creating meaning and for relating to others, for offering support, presence and connection to the people you encounter in your life. Change the world: roll out your mat, practice a little every day, share your experience and support others in this fragile, strong, deep and vulnerable experience.